English texts

Translation of the STOLPERSTEINE Text in Obernkirchen

DURING 1933 AND 1945.



Introduction and destinies of families and persons for whom
STOLPERSTEINE are laid down in a first sequence

by Wilfried Bartels, Obernkirchen ( state: 30st of June 2015)

The initiative STOLPERSTEINE in Obernkirchen which comprises apart from me Christoph von Abendroth, Sibylle Schlusche and Werner Hobein came into agreement to start this year with laying down STOLPERSTEINE for persons in following families:

 Families Leopold and Elias Lion who owned in today`s Friedrich-Ebert-street 6, in former time Adolf-Hitler-street, a renowned textile department store, but they lived with their families in leased appartments, Elias in Lange street, today`s number 22 and Leopold at Kirchplatz 2. Herewith it deals with nine family members.

 Family Paul Adler who was leading a well-running textile department store in Lange street, today`s number 9, as well. And he also lived in that house with his wife and his son altogether 3 people.

 Families Max and Martin Schönfeld, both families are living today in Sülbecker Weg 19, at that time it still had been the independent schaumburg-lippische community Rösehöfe 7, altogether 6 persons.

All in all these are 18 STOLPERSTEINE. With these the laying down of STOLPERSTEINEN is not finished. The initiative shall be continued in the next year.
This is also for the initially planned laying down of a STOLPERSTEIN in front of the former department store Lion as a symbol of the at that time flourishing business life in Obernkirchen – on behalf of all the other Jewish shops – until the Nazi-regime which had gained power from their demands for boycott and the smashing of shop window glasses and forced an abrupt conclusion of these since 1933.

Before I start with the intoduction of the families and the different persons I want to express some words of gratitude:

I want to use this laying down of STOLPERSTEINEN as an opportunity to acknowledge and express my thanks to Rolf-Bernd de Groot who had passed away unfortunately much too early. Without his precise, detailed recording and description in the book „Jewish life in the province“ the necessary information would be missing for the laying down of the STOLPERSTEINE.
Therefore his book is priceless for everybody who is interested in the Jewish history in Obernkirchen and its surrounding. That´s why most of my explanations are based on the information of this book.

Now I am starting with the introduction of the 5 families including all in all 18 persons.

I am beginning with the family Leopold Lion, Kirchplatz 2:

The parents Leopold and Carola, birth name: Adler, as well as their children Ernst and Ulla, called Ulla, lived in the house Kirchplatz 2 in rented accomodations. By the way a photo of this family adorns the jacket page of the already mentioned, very recommendable book „Jüdisches Leben in der Provinz“ (Jewish life in the province).

The house belonged to the family Carl Battermann. Apparently Leopold Lion and his wife lived there since their wedding in 1911 and son Ernst and daughter Ulla since 1912 or rather 1920.

Leopold Lion together with his brother Elias ran the already mentioned renowned textile department store Lion in today`s Friedrich-Ebert-street, in Adolf-Hitler-street at that time.

All 4 family members were born in Obernkirchen and grew up there as well.

Leopold voluntarily participated as a front soldier in World War One.
After that war he accepted a number of honorary offices, among other things the office of the head of the Jewish community from 1923 to the bitter end in 1938. He was also co-founder of the voluntary fire brigade.

Besides daily hostilities and harassments some well-known SS-louts smashed the shop window glasses of their department store for the first time in 1935. The perpetrators didn`t get any punishment, although the police still caught them in the same night, allegedly „due to the lack of evidence“. A smear sheet „For the inhabitants of Obernkirchen and surrounding“ which was impossible to be surpassed had gone ahead of this and finished with the following words:“ Away with the plague of Jews“!

During the Pogrom night from the 9th to the 10th of November 1938 the shop window glasses of the department store Lion were smashed again when the mob of furious SS-henchmen wandered through Obernkirchen, and the displays of the shop windows were confiscated and transported away.
But it became even worse: Leopold and 8 additional Jewish businessmen from Obernkirchen, among those his brother Elias and his brother- in-law Paul Adler and his only 15-year-old son Erich were arrested within the context of an action throughout Germany and were transported to the concentration camp Buchenwald. The reason for this: increase of masss emigration pressure.

The „action“ was arranged according to the recording of Goebbel`s`s diary directly by Hitler in the Pogrom night, by the way from this the term „action Jews“ derived. After that on the next morning about 25 thousand Jewish men were to be arrested and distributed on several concentration camps, the ones from this district were to be transported to the concentration camp in Buchenwald.
At the arbitrary arrest of the Jewish businessmen from Obernkirchen all left cash was taken away. Among other things the expenses for the SS-employment in the Pogrom night were financed. A twisting of rights: Not the perpetrators were arrested, but the victims, not the victims were compensated, but the perpetrators.

At the latest after the release of the concentration camp it was certain for Leopold Lion to leave Germany as quick as possible. Only a very quick emigration could spare him and his family from more dreadful deeds.

In order to finance the forced departure he and his brother Elias accelerated the anyway unavoidable sale of the department store.

The departure being forced by the Nazi-terror led the family including the mother of his wife Karola, Betty Adler, to New Zealand in May 1939. Next year a STOLPERSTEIN is to be laid down for Betty Adler who had lived in the house of Lange street, today number 19.
Son Ernst had already emigrated to New Zealand in June 1938. so he was spared after the rioting during the Pogrom night as well as the arrest at the next morning and the transportation to the concentration camp.

It is a wonderful gesture that despite of the atrocities two of the in New Zealand born sons and one grandson of Ulla Lion, married name Alford, namely Michael and John Alford with their wives Maricela and Lani, as well as one grandson are present today for this reason of laying down the STOLPERSTEINE; who live these days in Spain or rather in Israel, and the grandson David Alford is living in Geneva. And in addition to this 4 descendants of the Adler family who I will introduce as the next family but one.

But for the moment to the family of his brother Elias Lion.

They had lived in the house Lange street 22, likewise in rented accomodations. The house belonged to Emil Rank. Elias (age-group 1878) was married to Anna, birth name: Bloch (age-group 1892), and they apparently lived in that appartment since their wedding. They had 2 daughters, Ruth and Edith who were born in that appartment in 1919 or rather 1920. Elias was born in Obernkirchen as well, however Anna was born in Eldagsen. In the middle of 1939 Annas mother Johanna Bloch from Eldagsen moved to Obernkirchen as well, after her house was sold by forced sale and her husband has died shortly after that.

Elias Lion was like his brother Leopold a highly respected citizen of this town. He also participated voluntarily in World War One.

Elias Lion honorarily took part in the Jewish community, but in addition to that as well. Still in 1930 the majority of the businessmen in Obernkirchen voted him as the head of the trade and industrial association.
He was also the head of the German national association of Jewish front soldiers, OV Obernkirchen.

As already mentioned about Leopold Lion, Elias was arrested at the morning after the Pogrom night and transported to the concentration camp Buchenwald as well. Even after Elias`return from the concentration camp he didn`t want to emigrate. Like many others of his fellow-sufferers he couldn`t imagine that he would be forced to leave the country as a volunteer in World War One. When he realized his error, it was too late. The deportation was already a settled matter.

Subsequently in the middle of 1939 another particularly contemptible order of the town was given besides other harassments which definitely was set in advance from „the top“. The Jewish people who were not able to establish proof of their emigration specifically, were asked to evacuate their apartments in favour of so-called Aryan families.They were to be accomodated in the contemptuously called „House of Jews“ which had been confiscated in the middle of 1939 as the former synagogue building and be prepared for their deportation which was not frankly expressed.

Elias Lion and his family received a demand in the form of an ultimatum according to this at the end of 1939. The damages of this building among other things smashed window glasses and doors-caused by the Nazi-terror in the Pogrm night – were not and had not to be repaired, although the driven out Jews from their apartments in Obernkirchen were intended to be accomodated there. There it was draughty and cold. There was no stove available. Consequently the 81-year-old Johanna Bloch who only moved there in 1939 died of pneumonia already in April 1940.

Only the in need of care 87-year-old mother of Elias and Leopold Lion, birth name: Frommert, called Fanny, received a „reprieve“ and was allowed to live with a Jewish carer in her house and her apartment opposite their textile department store until the end of 1941.

She died in the „House of Jews“ in May 1942, after all the other accomodated Jews had been deported into the refugee camp in Hanover-Ahlem, as well her son Elias with his wife and both daughters Ruth and Edith who both had been employed in the Israelian hospital in Hanover until that time.

But Elias Lion was transported back into the co-called „House of Jews“ to die there after he had suffered a stroke. There he passed away two days later on the 1st of June in 1942.

Elias was the last of 5 deaths in the so-called „House of Jews“. They were refused to bury him on the Jewish cemetery in Obernkirchen. It had been closed since the middle of 1939, and the Nazi-barbarians didn`t allow any exception. All of them had to be buried on the Jewish cemetery in Rinteln.

The now widowed Anna Lion and her two daughters were deported with about 400 other Jewish people from the district Hanover from the main station in Hanover to the concentration camp in Theresienstadt at the end of June in 1942. There Anna died due to catastrophic hygienic conditions from the consequences of a typhoid epidemic.

Ruth and Edith survived the concentration camp Theresienstadt, but were transported to the women`s work and exermination camp Ausschwitz-Birkenau in spring 1944. As they were regarded still as able to work, they escaped the gas chamber at first.

Because of the approaching Soviet army the camp was vacated in part in November 1944. The women were transported under dreadful conditions to the concentration camp Bergen-Belsen.

But who had hoped that it became better there, was severly disappointed. The camp Bergen-Belsen was hell on earth. On top of it a dangerous fleckfieber and typhoid epidemic broke out in March 1945. This epidemic carried off Ruth and Edith Lion who had become almost 26 and 25 years old – only a few weeks before the camp was liberated by the British advance commando on the 15th of April in 1945.

Therefore their destiny is particularly painful too, because both sisters turned down the opportunity to escape to New Zealand with their uncle Leopold Lion and his family, with the reason that they didn`t want to leave behind their parents.

Now the introduction of the family Paul Adler, his wife Gertrud, birth name: Philippsohn and their son Erich is following:

They lived on the top floor of the business house in the Lange street, today`s number 9. The house had been built by Paul`s uncle and business founder Samuel Philipp Adler instead of an old half-timbered house in 1890. The very modern facade at that time is most extensively unchanged nowadays and is under preservation order.

Paul Adler was born in Obernkirchen in 1892, but not in that house, because it belonged as already mentioned to his uncle Samuel Philipp, the brother of his father Meier Philipp Adler. The parental home of Paul was only a few steps away, the house in Lange street, today`s number 19. The last was built by Paul`s father with the same plans after the completion of the first. Paul`s father ran a furniture shop there and lived in it with his family on the top floor.

Paul grew up in Obernkirchen and later took over the textile shop „Philipp Adler“ – it is not known, when this exactly happened, and it was obviously named after the uncle and founder Samuel Philipp.

Paul Adler was front soldier in World War One and was wounded. He also participated actively in the social life of this town and the commmunity of the synagogue.

In the Pogrom night from the 9th until the 10th of November in 1938 both shop window glasses were smashed and the displays were thrown onto the street. He and his 15-year-old son Erich were arrested as well at the next morning and together with the other arrested businessmen from Obernkirchen deported to the concentration camp Buchenwald. Erich described in an interview worth reading which he gave to a seven-person visitors group of former Jews from Obernkirchen with their wives during a visit in 1989, and this is printed in the book „Jewish life in the province“.

Paul Adler`s business and residential house was „put up for compulsory action“ in 1939. The only bidder who was permitted was the the town savings bank of Obernkirchen at that time who purchased the house far less than its value. Paul Gertrud and Erich Adler as well as the widowed mother of Gertrud, Fanny Philippsohn who lived in the Schluke, today`s number 5 emigrated to the USA in March 1940. Paul Adler died there in 1956, his wife Gertrud in 1971.

Erich Adler died in a particularly tragic way in 1989. He and his wife Amely were on their return flight to the USA after the already mentioned visit of a group of former Jews from Obernkirchen with their spouses in October 1989. He died of heart failure during a stopover in London.

My mother was especially united with the Adler family in a close relationship. In the twenties she learned to be a textile sales assistant in their shop and worked there in that profession, until there were not many things to be sold because of the disgraceful demands for boycott from 1933 on. Since the early eighties an intensive correspondence between penfriends has developed between my mother and the son of Erich Adler and his wife Amely.

I am fulfilled with deep thankfulness because of the already described particularly personal relationship of my mother to the Adler family that at this laying down of STOLPERSTEINEN Erich Adler`s son Mark with his wife Joan as well as Erich`s daughter Vivian with her son Jeremy, Erich`s grandson and greatgrandson of Paul and Gertrud Adler are present.
Now to both families Max and Martin Schönfeld:
The destinies of the families of both brothers Martin and Max ran differently. While Martin Schönfeld already used the chance to emigrate with his wife Frida and their only 7-year-old son Manfred to Argentina already at the end of 1937, the booked emigration into the USA of his brother Max and his family fell through at the beginning of September 1939. The reason for that was the delay of the sale of their house. The sad consequence for this family was their deportation and extermination.

Both brothers participated as front soldiers in World War One and couldn`t grasp like all the other Jewish participants in that war, what Germany did to them.

Following information to family Max Schönfeld:
Max Schönfeld was born in Rösehöfe 7 in 1889 and also grew up there. He worked as a livestock dealer.

His wife Frieda, birth name: Herzberg, came from Uthlede, nowadays a village in the community of Hagen in the administration district Cuxhaven. She was born in 1892.

The daughter Lydia was born in Rösehöfe 7 in 1922.

At that time Rösehöfe was an independent schaumburg-lippische community of the district Bückeburg of that time. Family Max Schönfeld had to leave their apartment already in December 1939 according to the parliament of the canton. Different from the Jews of the town Obernkirchen this family was relocated in the „Judenhaus“ into the independent community of Steinbergen which belonged to Schaumburg-Lippe at that time (nowadays it belongs to Rinteln).

Family Max Schönfeld was already deported over Bückeburg and Bielefeld into the dreaded German national ghetto Riga. There the life trace of Max Schönfeld disappeared. With almost sure probability he was put to death there. This we suspect. According to the book „Jewish life in the province“, for his wife Frieda as well.

But there are also indications from the federal archives that apart from his daughter Lydia his wife Frieda survived the ghetto Riga as well and that she was transported to the concentration camp Stutthof near Danzig after the closure of the ghetto. It could not be found out, whether she was put to death there or during one of the 12 death marches after the closure of the concentration camp in January 1945.

Last but not least to the destiny of family Martin, Frieda and son Manfred, which thanks be to God had a more conciliatory end.

Martin Schönfeld was born in Rösehöfe 7 in 1891 and he also grew up there.
He worked as a butcher, primarily as a goat butcher.

Martin was married to his wife Frieda, birth name: Hammerschlag, from Felsberg, district Kassel since 1926. In their marriage son Manfred was born on the day before last of 1930.
Father Martin had judged the situation realisticly and escaped with his family already at the end of 1937 to Buenos Aires. Son Manfred was at that time only 7 years old.

Martin passed away in Buenos Aires in 1970, his wife in 1978.

Manfred had met his wife Johanna in Buenos Aires who was born there. They got married there. Both belonged to the visitor`s group of 1989.

In the late nineties something very pleasant happened. Martin with his wife Johanna returned to Obernkirchen, but not only as visitors, but in order to stay here and to spend the twillight years together.
Unfortunately luck lasted only one year. On the 30st of June 1999 Manfred Schönfeld passed away. He was buried on the Jewish cemetery in Obernkirchen, reasonably exact 60 years after the closure by the Nazis.
It belongs to the most disgraceful incidents of postwar years of our town that his memorial was dishonoured repeatedly. And that his wife Johanna stayed here despite of this to the most hopeful.